TACLOBAN CITY– The decision of the city government of Tacloban to purchase and operate a hotel built by former first lady Imelda Marcos was welcomed by the head of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).
Mark Lapid, the chief operating officer of the TIEZA, said that they were glad and opposed no objection on this decision of the city government to take over the Leyte Park Resort Hotel.
“The mayor told us that they are pursuing it. Since we have a 40% stake of it, we oppose no objection on it,” Lapid said.
Lapid was interviewed during the switch-on ceremony of the aesthetic light and sound show at the San Juanico Bridge last October 19 with TIEZA providing the P80 million fund for the said project.
To recall, Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez disclosed that the city government has earmarked at least P500 million to rehabilitate the facility.
The money, payable in 10 years, that will be used for this purpose will come from the P1 billion loan to be undertaken by the city government from the Land Bank of the Philippines. The remaining amount will be used for other projects of the city government.
Mayor Romualdez said that with the hotel operating again, not only Tacloban will have a big hotel that could accommodate big gatherings and seminars but could provide at least 2,000 jobs.
The city mayor added that it could also help attract more tourists to come to the city as they will have a better hotel where they could stay during their visit to Tacloban and in nearby areas.
“We are pursuing its operation just as our airport is undergoing its rehabilitation,” he said, referring to the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport which is currently undergoing some modernization work at a cost of P1.42 billion as funded by the Department of Transportation.
With a modern and bigger airport, more tourists and even investors will be encouraged to visit Tacloban and the rest of the region, he said.
Lapid said that he had a discussion with Mayor Romualdez on this issue during his visit.
“We are very glad that the city government will take over the Leyte Park Hotel. If the city government will not take over the hotel, kami ang magta-take over,” he said.
“But since the city government is interested and very aggressive in pursuing to have it operated, we are very happy and supportive of that idea,” Lapid added.
He added that he is happy that the city government wants to operate the hotel as it means that it is engaging in tourism-related activity.
The hotel ceased to operate in 2021 after its private operator, whose been leasing the facility since 1994, did not renew its contract as it chose to build his own hotel, also in the city.
The Leyte Park Resort Hotel, sprawling at six-hectare along Magsaysay Boulevard, was built in 1979 during the time of former first lady Imelda Marcos, aunt of the city mayor.
The facility, located on a hill overlooking the San Juanico Bridge, had 110 rooms with four pool villas, infinity pools, spa center, several restaurants, and a convention center that could accommodate 2,000 people.
It also welcomed several high-profile guests during its heydays like international pianist Van Cliburn and Academy Award-winning actress Liza Minnelli.
Incidentally, prior to its construction as a hotel, the place was known as Camp Bumpus where the Philippine Constabulary, the forerunner of the Philippine National Police, was headquartered.
It was the only hotel in the region to be classified as a five-star hotel.
The facility is being managed by the Privatization Management Office (PMO), the Leyte provincial government, and the TIEZA, an attached agency of the Department of Tourism.
PMO serves as the national government’s marketing arm concerning transferred assets, government corporations and other properties assigned to it by the Privatization Council for disposition.
On the other hand, TIEZA is responsible for implementing policies and programs of the DOT related to the development, promotion, and supervision of tourism projects” in the country.
The Leyte provincial government owns the lot where the hotel is built. (JOEY A. GABIETA)